#1
This guitar is new in the sense that I bought it as a project, and finally finished the project. I am a sucker for interesting old neck-thru guitars, found this on Ebay with crappy mismatched pickups but nice body/neck.

I've replaced the pickups with a pair of P-Rails (P90+Rail humbuckers). Replaced the four pots with four push-pull pots so each P-Rail can be series, parallel, split P90, split Rail. Got new .033uf capacitors (sort of split difference between .022 and .047). The cream P-Rails are a very close match to the original cream (reflected in the 3-way switch) so it retains the original aesthetic.

I've only seen one other guitar of this model, posted online by some one in France, and they had replaced their pickups with Gibson humbuckers. I'm guessing it's from the early 80s, but maybe even 70s. I'm pretty sure it's from the "Asian-owned" Harmony period, which was known to make some cheap guitars, mostly in Korea, I think. I never heard of them making a higher end neck-through like this, and the guy in France who has the same model was also at a loss in terms of the year or model or country of origin for this guitar. Based on the quality and what I am guessing is the time period, I am thinking it was made in Japan.

Ken
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Bernie Sanders for President!
#3
Nice neck-through. I hate push-pulls (you haven't lived until you've done a pull and ended up with a knob whistling into the audience), in part because you can't see or feel at a glance where they're set. So my P-Rail guitars have a pair of three-way miniswitches (like the "Tri-Sound" switches on the older Ibanez) that switch serial/P90/Rail coil for each pickup. There's one push-pull that selects parallel mode (used infrequently compared to the other three).

Worth noting that SD has pickup rings with switches built in built specifically for P-Rails.

Also worth noting is that there are three different output levels of P-Rail pickup. I'd suggest NOT following SD's recommendations for what should be a "normal, balanced" set of pickups where these are concerned with a hotter bridge pickup and a milder neck pickup. P90's and rail coils work better when both positions have the SAME pickup. And yes, the neck will sound hotter (due to its position), but that's actually a good thing.
#4
I initially tried the switches (Tripleshot) and after having them all soldered up, I was putting one into the pickup cavity when the ribbon-wire ripped away from the pickup ring. I googled this, and apparently it's a known weakness, delicate and you have to be very careful. I did not know this, and it's sort of hard when you are jamming wires under the pickup to ensure they do not pull "too" hard. Seymour Duncan did not respond to my online query about this issue, which annoyed me.

Rather than pay $30 for another Tripleshot that may or may not "survive" installation, I bought four push-pull pots which altogether totaled the same price as one Tripleshot ring. Oh, I should also mention the Tripleshot rings are sized to match USA-made Gibson humbucker pickup rings which are a bit smaller than most Asian-made humbucker pickup rings. So I would have had to fill in some screw-holes and make new holes to use these rings, and I wasn't thrilled about that, either.

It was kind of tricky for me to solder up four push-pull pots (the push-pull section limits your access to the potentiometer's terminals), but I did as much wiring as I could out of the guitar, on a cardboard "mock up" with the same spacing as the holes.

So far, I am pretty happy with the push-pull action. I don't perform onstage, though. I suppose if I were to play onstage regularly, I might have opted for push-push pots -- same as push-pull, but you never have to pull, you push to get it to switch positions. I have an old Yamaha with push-push switches and I really like them a lot, no risk of accidentally pulling a knob off. Heck, I probably should have looked for those for this project, but I just was not really thinking too much about that aspect. Next time, I think I'll do all future "push-pulls" using "push-pushes" now that I think about it.

These are the original / standard P-Rails, not the hotter version. In humbucker mode, I have to crank the gain more, or add overdrive or distortion fx, to get the same amount of crunch as compared to my other guitars with humbuckers (both active and passive). But these pickups have much better clarity and articulation, a real bell-like sweetness. The clarity is actually forcing me to confront weaknesses in my technique that I have not noticed playing other guitars that tend to hide my mistakes with dirt. I like these with just a little dirt for bluesy stuff, or clean for jazz, classical, spanish, or clean with echo/chorus/delay stuff to get an ethereal tone (Cocteau Twins?). Basically without effects, these are very Santana, not very Nirvana. Of course, using effects can get you to just about any tone, even heavy metal.

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!
#5
Nice the cream p-rails suit it pretty nicely
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I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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